Monday, October 31, 2005

Karachi Calling

The comically misnamed Voter's Guide in Saturday's Houston Chronicle offered little to guide us in next week's elections, but it did confirm our surmise that the race for the District F seat on city council is an all-Pakistani affair.

We knew already that incumbent M. J. Khan was of Pakistani origin and that his batshit challenger, John Shike, also hailed from that same corner of the partitioned Subcontinent. Now, thanks to the Chronicle's incisive reportage of forms the candidates fill out and send in to the paper, we know for certain that M. J. Khan's other opponent, the unrelated K. A. Khan, is also a Pakistan native and claims a diploma from Karachi University (whether he received his retroactively remains an unaddressed mystery).

This most certainly is a development of historic scale, not only in our humble District F but likewise in the city of Houston, the state of Texas, the entire United States of America and perhaps the whole planet Earth outside of Pakistan (assuming they elect the equivalent of city councils there, we dunno).

What's interesting (mildly ... eh, not so much, really) is that while a Census update shows "non-Hispanic Asians" (are there "Hispanic Asians?") make up about 15 percent of the district's population---by far the largest percentage of 'em among the city's nine council districts---Pakistanis, despite their presence behind the counter at almost every convenience store/gas station in southwest Houston, can't possibly account for more than a mere 2 or 3 percent of the district's population, if that much (well behind Vietnamese- and Chinese-Americans, we presume).

So maybe the Pakistani immigrant, in addition to his recognized talent for buying up distressed properties in borderline neighborhoods and allowing them to become further distressed, has a heretofore unacknowledged knack for electoral politics, such as reputedly possessed by the Irish-American ward heeler in days of yore.

We've previously reported that our introduction to Mr. K. A. Khan came through a mailing with a fine-print identifier in which he blamed M. J. Khan for a rise in gang activity, prostitution and graffiti in District F (the graffiti proliferation is definitely fact-based, although we doubt the obviously increasing volume of preliterate handwriting on the wall would be less if Mohammad J. Christ hisself were on city council). K. A. has reported raising a fair amount of money for a council challenger, most of it from what appear to be fellow Pakistanis (M. J., by contrast, claims a fairly wide base of support and seems to have been responsive to constituent concerns, so we're assuming he won't be sunk next week in a miasma of voter confusion/indifference).

It's probably difficult for these candidates to stand out in the all-Pakistani crowd, so they might want to steal a turn from our fellow "non-Hispanic white" man we saw panhandling Saturday morning on the turn-lane median of Chimney Rock and Highway 59 ... festively sporting a tall witch's hat. We would have tossed him a buck, but we had the light.

It's that little extra flair that can mean the difference between an icy stare and a handful of loose pocket change, or being a "real estate investor" and having a good job with decent salary and benefits representing District F.

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